As I look back on this year, I see so many things that make me smile. There were some sad times to be sure, but as a whole, the year was great. This posting finds myself waiting on the web site gurus to fix a new upgrade.
A photography blog isn’t much good with degraded image performance. It wasn’t long before the web elves danced around with little bells and chains,
and all the nasty little Gremlins were chased off.
Looking back, last year really did hold an amazing amount of contacts and great images. It started with the new 2015
finding me and my family coming back from Colorado. On the journey back to Kansas City, we try to stop in Woodland Park, Colorado. The Donut Mill has been a staple on the trips out and back. If you get a chance, please stop by to try the dinner plate sized cinnamon rolls.
We continued our ride home and along the way, I slipped off of I-70 to a side stop. I highly recommend this. Get off of the main road. The boring, mundane blip after blip of the dotted center line holds nothing for you but miles down the road. Take that left turn somewhere along the way and spend a few minutes. I knew where I wanted to stop, as a good friend of mine (Corky Heller [http://www.chellerphotography.com]), had been there before.
It was at this point the kids needed to stretch, and frankly I needed to stimulate my brain with more than kids videos and alphabet games. The spreading expanse of the St. Fidelis Church was amazing. The warmth of the pews and the arched expanse of the ceiling pulls you into the sanctuary. Truly an inspiring view of amazing architecture. After stretching for a few minutes, we made our way home to Kansas City.
Soon, my daughter’s birthday came along. People ask me what they can do to improve their photography at home. I say shoot a lot. Shoot everything. Shoot all the time. Challenge yourself by shooting everyday things, thinking of them as other moments. “If this was that, then I would do this.” Trust me, my kids have become very accustomed to striking a pose when they hear their names.
I also say to make time to go on mini-trips. At the end of January, Corky asked if I wanted to tag along to a Boy Scout Camp and then some travels on back roads around central Kansas. I made the arrangements with my lovely wife, and went for a long weekend.
I had seen numerous shots of the castle at Coronado Heights, but I had not seen many (if any) of the inside. I loved the stonework, and the feel of the medieval space. I was waiting for the castle dogs with wired hair, long limbs, and hungry bellies to run in from outside. I could see the coat of arms on the wall, tapestries flit in the drafts created by cooking fires. Now, we just needed a drawbridge.
In February, I find myself attending a National Geographic presentation. My wife and I adore the addition of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to Kansas City’s expanding arts and intellectual scene. This venue hosts many things from musical performances of world class nature, to nature presentations by world class photographers. I have seen amazing imagery presented here by the likes of Catherine Karnow (http://catherinekarnowphotoworkshop.com),
The start of March found me traveling for work.
A few days later, I was off to Manhattan, Kansas for a work seminar. My camera and kit travelled with me so that I could wonder around in the evening to see what I could find. That is another common theme that I have noticed. Take a camera with you. I don’t care if it is your cell-phone or your DSLR. Take it with you. Now that you have it with you, think about the photograph. Don’t just take the mindless snapshot, but compose. Think. Look.
Once back, I had a shoot of a cooking class to attend.
I shoot a lot of things for use of others. I have said in the past, that you should not shoot for free. Assign a value to your work. There are some images that I do not get “paid” for, but value is assigned. A gold medal meal is bartered for photos for students.
A trip at the end of March after a storm system, to one of the overlooks in Kansas City. This park is about twenty minutes from my house, and holds one of the most recognizable views of the city.
April found spring approaching with flowers and trees starting to bloom.
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is truly a national treasure. If you ever have a chance, take a day to explore it. I can tell you, backpacks are not allowed. Tripods and flash photography are also not allowed inside of the galleries.
I then travelled to Washington, DC. The cherry blossoms were starting to bloom, I had a friend living there, and it was my birthday.
What better time to spend a week with a camera!
As most of you know, I will talk to anyone. While traveling I noticed a young couple on the plane with an infant. For the most part, the child travelled great. There were some times on the four or so hour trip, that the child cried. I could see them working on trying to quiet their child. I could see they were trying to do everything in their power to calm the yelling. I get it. I have been there. I walked up to the young couple as we waited for the bags, and asked if I could tell them something. I told them, from one parent to another, to never feel ashamed of their child. You could see the relief and calm come to the situation. I asked if I could get my camera and take of photo of them as we waited. I gave my card, and told them to email me as I would send the image back to them. A few months later, I received that email and sent the photo back. I also learned that this young man was assigned to the Silent Drill Team with the United States Marine Corp. (http://www.barracks.marines.mil/Units/CompanyA/SilentDrillPlatoon.aspx)
The Korean War Memorial was an inspiring site at night. The sound of the city falls away from you while in the National Mall,
and the dark around you made the lights feel like starlight.
The subway and bus system in DC was amazing. It really did allow for travel all over the city. It took some getting used to,
but was not that bad with some help from my buddy.
The National Mall made me thankful for tennis shoes and a camera. So many things to see and do. I think I could spend a month here and not touch all of the things I would like to do. (http://www.tblphotography.com/washingtondc) I was also lucky enough to be invited into the National Arboretum to photograph something. A pair of nesting Bald Eagles. Now to those that see them on a regular basis, this is not something special. In this case, it was. I was not prepared with the kit that I would need to shoot long distance wildlife, but I was not passing up the chance. These were the first nesting pair of eagles in the District of Columbia documented in 50 years! I was also glad to talk to the resident Ornithologist abut the habitat as we walked up to the secluded viewing area.
The nesting pair moved around in the early morning sky, and finally arrived to feed the one visible eaglet. I also discovered that I had been allowed in to photograph these amazing birds before the Washington Post and National Geographic.
May then found me prepping for the upcoming Dirty Kanza 200 bicycle race (http://www.dirtykanza200.com)
I had shot this amazing amalgamation of awesome people over the last few years. Different images have been selected for publications in Women’s Adventure Magazine, Road Magazine, Men’s Health, and several others. I enjoy that, but what really gets me is the relationship the people have with one another and the event itself. If you have never felt what a contagious environment is, you need to be standing at the start or finish of this event. A complete town comes out for friends they have not met yet. The vibe of the event is different. The racers help one another. The people around you are all smiling, I mean down to the person. I get emotional just thinking about being a part of this. It also allows me the ability to take people inside of the event.
Sometimes the people around you seem larger than life. I got to meet Linda Guerrette this year, and I have to say she nails event and especially bicycle event photography (http://www.lindaguerrettephotography.com). Beyond that, she is one of those people that you just feel a smile and a hug comes naturally to. Inside of the race itself, you can see how people battle the mental race as much as the route itself.
Here, Yuri Hauswald (http://www.guenergy.com/) sprints at the finish after an tremendous closure of about 20 minutes out on the route. I love this, and I love the moment just after that.
I love the total exhaustion and end of the race relief you can see here. But to be honest, I really love
the connection that he had with his wife after he was able to stand.
I also love the relationships that the camera has brought to me. Wendy Davis (http://apabstsmear.blogspot.com) at the finish of the 2014 DK and her hug to Kristi Mohn was my cover for the Dirty Kanza Magazine. Getting to see her again this year, and getting to see her finish her fourth DK200 had me smiling and a little teary. Possibly, this coming year will let me see her complete her 5th DK200 and thus earning her an spectacular goblet!
June came in with an invite to come to Whiteman Air Force Base and to have up front access to the Thunderbirds. Some truly happy, outgoing, and friendly people. An outreach of the Air Force to the public and especially the youth, they are some top notch aviators and crews.
The image of B-2 Spirit Bomber 331 (Spirit of South Carolina) was taken as the bomber banked low due to the low ceiling. This image was also a donation I gave to a soon to be retiring Air Force Specialist who has worked on this very bomber. Dennis Saum with Overland Park Art and Frame (http://overlandparkart.com) stepped up with a donation of the framing for this career military man. I ended up signing this and making it a series print, 1 of 10.
The summer found me shooting more for the local Farmer’s Market. We took the girls to a local school
grown garden that showed the power and work of being organic.
The farmers at the market tend not to be “marketers.” They are farmers after all. I have gotten to the point that they all pretty much know me, and enjoy the
imagery that I can give back to them. They are what I call my “feel good project.” If I can further them,
then my organic produce for my family becomes more plentiful.
On the artisan side, Chef Dave Derr and Chef Jessica Rush make the art of stuffed casing and grilled meats to the next level.
Artisan sausage, who knew it would be so tasty!
Interspersed in between customer photographs, I continue to try to capture those important family moments… like the wonder of loosing your first tooth.
Here my wife Sara spends a moment with her 89 year old grandmother. She has always had such a love for her grandmother and grandfather.
During the year I was also able to work on more commercial images. Corrine Mosher (https://www.facebook.com/corinnemoshershooting) allowed me the honor of having a shoot at her home range. Shooting a shooter in a manner of speaking. She really was easy to work with.
Not long after shooting for her, I was asked to shoot for Shoot for the Gold Event (http://www.shootforthegold.com) . This event was put on by Corinne and Mike Mosher for donations going to Special Olympics. One interesting comment that I heard from national shooters, was I was the only photographer they had seen that would reset steel targets.
As September moved in, other events and customer shoots came along. The sunflowers started to show the summer was ending and fall was coming.
I was happy to see one of the gentlemen of the area show up with his kit. Dave Leiker has always been forthcoming with help, context, constructive critiques, and a smile. (http://prairiedust.net/)
I try to see stories within the event. Ella Reusser had taken a left when she should have went right. Crushing!
Finding out she was off-route. I could see the anger, disappointment, and disgust wave across her face like the waves of wind sifting the tall grass.
She was done.
Another racer, Shane Heiman, come off coarse on the same path as she had. He immediately told her THEY were not giving up and to come on. They retraced the route back to the wrong turn (adding something near 4 miles to the route), and got back on track.
She would later finish as the top female!
September found me back in Colorado and just in time for the Vapor Trail 125 (http://vaportrail125.com)
125 miles of single track trails in the mountains of Colorado at night. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
The trip also allowed me to come across some new hikes and trails.
October came and so did the Waterfire (http://www.waterfirekc.com) on the Plaza. The cauldrons lit on Brush Creek were only half as mesmerizing as the aerial work and fire dancing of the member from Quixotic ( http://www.quixoticfusion.com ).
October saw more product images
Some tasteful products from Drangonfly Gourmet Foods (https://www.facebook.com/DragonflyGourmetFoods/)
The end of October, November and into December found time at a premium. Customer family shoots, custom settings with post production, and special location shoots filled the books. I was able to shoot some amazing family sessions that held meaning of passed love ones.
And as the year closes I am content. I have been able to expand my circle of friends on this silly spinning orb called Earth. I have seen more people smile and have been able to be part of those smiles. It does my heart good. And with that, may you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!